With A DVM, Your Career Opens Lots of Doors in Some Traditional…and Surprising…Public Service Career Paths

Janet Stevens, Chief Talent Management Officer

Office of Management, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service

Congratulations- you are a member of a select group of current and future medical professionals! Many of us dreamed of working with cats, dogs, and farm or zoo animals in pursuit of our education. A few of us knew early on that clinical medicine was not what we wanted, but most did not know how many doors a degree in veterinary medicine can open. You are smart, capable, adaptable, and resilient. You have educated yourself and now, perhaps, you want to know what else is out there – where all of your knowledge and skills may take you.

With your DVM (or VMD), lots of doors open in some traditional…and surprising…career paths at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Have you ever heard of FSIS? Did you know FSIS is the largest single employer of veterinarians in the Federal Government? Most lead FSIS inspection teams as Supervisory Public Health Veterinarians (SPHVs) at federally inspected establishments across the U.S. and its territories. They ensure humane treatment of animals sent to slaughter, observe and assess food safety programs at nearly 7,000 slaughter and processing facilities producing meat, poultry, and egg products in all U.S. States and territories. The end result is meat and egg products destined for domestic and international consumption. FSIS veterinarians have also found their interests and skills are important to other work, such as leadership roles across the country or in headquarters-level, Washington, D.C. positions; some work in one of the three FSIS laboratories; others create and update policy for the agency, provide outreach to consumers, use their skills and knowledge to write speeches, train employees in their public health tasks, and much more.

Whether you already know you want to pursue a career in public health or prefer to experience private practice or other clinical settings first, know that there is a lot you can also accomplish with a career in FSIS, where your knowledge and experience are valued. We hire early career, mid-career and late career veterinarians. There are several ways you can learn more about currently open positions and opportunities to experience the work FSIS does. FSIS employees also receive great benefits, equal to approximately 38% over and above their salary, which is higher than the industry standard of 30% benefits. When you search the PHV page for open opportunities and select one that interests you, the link will take you to USAJobs.gov, where you can find more information such as salary, listed as base salary. The posted salary range does not include differences associated with locality pay, or potential overtime pay, which change depending on the specific location and work schedule. For more information on how federal pay works, visit the Office of Personnel Management’s salaries & wages page.

  • Visit our PHV page to learn about the role of SPHVs in the agency, learn about benefits and incentives, and visit our “Who Works for Us” page to read stories about our employees.
  • Check out our Externships and Volunteer Opportunities page to learn more about how you can experience FSIS in as little as 1 week.
  • In the Student Employment Programs section, you will find information about the Adel A. Malak Scholarship program, which offers $15,000 in funding for tuition, books, tutors, and laboratory fees for each year a selected student participates in the program.
  • Active veterinary professionals can also experience a day-in-the-life of an FSIS veterinarian by emailing phvincentives@usda.gov to request a shadowing opportunity. This is a great way to learn a little more about the agency before deciding if a career with FSIS is something you want to pursue as a career transition.
  • Want to know more, email us at phvincentives@usda.gov.